Part Two of Digital Photoguide describes the additional hardware and software you need once you’ve purchased a computer. Many of these products are not readily available in the High Street and can only be sourced from specialist suppliers. At the bottom of this page are some links to the manufacturers and a selection of UK-based suppliers.
You may ask “is it really worth spending so much money to profile my monitor ?” Only you can make the final decision, particularly when the equipment is costly. Those who have “bitten the bullet” don’t regret their decision. It’s a great time saver and gives greater confidence that the results of editing will not have any nasty surprises when someone else displays the images.
To get some idea of whether you need to profile your monitor, examine the graphic below. It is an enhanced 23-step version of a standard “21-step” wedge of strips with different percentage levels of black. This version has been enhanced with two extra levels, 98% and 3%, compared to the standard wedge. You should be able to distinguish a difference between all of the steps when viewing on your monitor and there should be no colour casts - just pure black, white and shades of grey. It can be difficult to see the difference between 98% and 100%, and 0% and 3%. If you have a flat panel monitor, vary your viewing angle and you should be able to see the difference. If you can distinguish all the strips your monitor has an excellent setup for lightness & darkness. If you can’t distinguish all strips, check which ones. If it is only the 98% and 3% strips you’re probably OK. If it’s other strips too then you are recommended to calibrate your monitor. The dark end of the wedge is important when manipulating shadow areas in photos, for example loco and rolling stock underframes, while the light end is important in clouds and skies.
When displaying the wedge, there are some technical considerations because of colour management - an area which will be covered in a future Photoguide. Use Internet Explorer version 5 or6, or Windows Picture Viewer, both of which support colour management. If you’re still not able to resolve all the steps, just to be sure, save the wedge image file to disk and then read it into your editing program which should be able to deal with the colour management. For those technically interested, although a greyscale subject the image file is an 8-bit RGB (i.e. colour) Jpeg with embedded sRGB colour profile.